By Andy Stephens
It is a deep renewal of the mile feature but, even so, I’m surprised Qemah is as big as 7-1 because she’s a top-class filly with a stunning turn of foot who simply has not had things pan out for her since landing successive Group One wins at Ascot and Deauville last summer.
She looked as good as ever when getting the better of Aljazzi and Usherette in the Duke of Cambridge Stakes at Royal Ascot in June and looked unlucky not to follow up when a close fourth to Roly Poly in the Prix Rothschild next time. She was hampered at a crucial stage two out after racing keenly in rear by a jockey riding her for the first time.
Qemah was reunited with regular rider Gregory Benoist in the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown last time but she again did not get a chance to show her true colours. She was caught out of her ground when the tempo increased off the bend into the straight. It had been a similar story in that race 12 months earlier and it is clearly not her track.
The straight mile at Newmarket will play more to her strengths and I think she rates a better value play than Persuasive, who is an obvious threat but is no bigger than 3-1.
They say the bigger the field, the bigger the certainty and I would not put off anyone backing She Believes, the favourite, in the £150,000 Tattersalls October Auction Stakes (3.50) because she has got the best form and the drop back to 6f should not hurt her.
There is a little margin for error in her overnight odds, however, and there is an interesting alternative in Fake News, who is chalked up at 20-1 by Betfair and Paddy Power - the only two firms to offer prices at the time of typing.
David Barron’s youngster will be easy to spot in the cavalry charge with his big white face and there was plenty to like about the way he got the job done at Carlisle last time, when the re-opposing Se You (since gone close at Pontefract) was back in fifth.
The form of that race has been franked - the second and fourth have won since - and it was effectively his first start because he had been all but pulled up on his debut after taking a false step before halfway.
Barron has his team in good form and landed this valuable prize with Poet’s Prize a couple of years ago. Like Fake News, he had won an ordinary maiden in the North before turning up at Headquarters.
Another with distinctive facial features, Neshmeya, is worth an interest in the British EBF Breeders' Fillies Series Middle Distance Handicap (5.00).
Her form behind Talaayeb and Shutter Speed last autumn suggests a mark of 81 is lenient and she showed a good attitude to get the better of Superioritycomplex (now rated 83) in a Salisbury maiden in June.
She might well have won on her handicap bow at Nottingham last time, too, had she not been badly hampered in the closing stages. Neshmeya runs off the same mark and if the ground continues to dry out then so much the better.
There is a also a fine card at Ascot where the big betting is the totescoop6 Challenge Cup (3.35).
I cannot see many pace angles and, as a consequence, am drawn to Mojito, the general 4-1 favourite, and Mjjack because they both like to race handily and may be at a tactical advantage.
Mjjack is the more exposed of the pair but the 14-1 chance has run cracking races over course and distance on his past two starts in similar races and is going to again be very hard to keep out of the frame.
Waady is a worthy favourite in the Hope And Homes For Children Rous Stakes but he did not finish far ahead of Mirza at Newbury last time and the latter, who was more exposed to the fierce pace that day, rates a better punt at 7-1 with BetVictor.
Mirza impressed with the way he travelled in that Newbury contest won by Take Cover before wilting late on and it is worth recalling that the veteran was beaten in a triple photo finish in the Rous Stakes last year.
Blue Point is a short price for the John Guest Bengough Stakes and Charlie Appleby told me at Newmarket last week that the colt had derived great benefit from his fourth in the Sprint Cup at Haydock after a couple of months off.
He may well get back to winning ways but Danzeno is himself a smart sprinter and, at 13-2 with Coral and SkyBet, can upstage him. He enjoys the demands of Ascot and a repeat of any of his past three runs (did not get rub of the green when sixth in the Stewards’ Cup) would put him bang in the picture.
Waldgeist, a close fourth in the Irish Derby last time, stands out in the Gigaset Cumberland Lodge Stakes (2.25) but he is a general 11-10 and I am not telling you anything you do not already know there.
How To Bet £20 on Saturday: (Prices correct at 5.30pm)
3.35 Ascot: Mjjack £2 each-way at a general 14-1
5.00 Newmarket: Neshmeya £3 win at a general 11-2
£1 Win Lucky Fifteen
(General odds in brackets)
1.50 Ascot: Mirza (7-1)
3.00 Ascot: Danzeno (13-2)
5.00 Newmarket: Neshmeya